HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As teams around the NFL continue training camps with the first preseason game approaching, fans may notice a new piece of equipment on the field this season.
For the first time, select players from all 32 teams are required to wear a padded shell affixed to the outside of their helmets. The Guardian Caps are mandated in all 2022 preseason practices up until the second preseason game for all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers. The device is said to provide additional protection for positions that experience the greatest concentration of helmet impacts.
In March 2022, NFL clubs voted and passed a resolution on the Guardian Cap requirement. The vote followed consideration and recommendations by the Competition Committee and the owners' Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as consultation with head coaches around the league.
Obviously, the NFL thinks they're great, but ABC13 wanted an unbiased opinion.
"I don't think we like it," Texans defensive lineman Roy Lopez admitted during a one-on-one interview with ABC13 after Tuesday's practice. "But they tell us to wear it and they tell us it protects us, so we listen and we wear it. They also say it doesn't add heat, but I'm not sure how true that is, either."
Lopez, the second-year defensive standout, turns 25 years old on Aug. 7, but he says brain health is something he still thinks about.
"Even though I'm young, I'm surrounded in a d-line room that's got some veterans that are legendary to this game," Lopez said. "They tell you how important everything is: taking care of your body, your brain, just health in general. Finding peace outside of the game is something they express to us and I'm thankful to be in the room. But I won't be sad when we're allowed to take these off."
The Guardian Cap model being worn at NFL training camps is not the same model seen on college and high school football fields. The league says it will collect and analyze data from preseason practice to understand how Guardian Caps performed and to improve future health and safety efforts.
However, on its own website, Guardian Cap warns researchers have not reached an agreement on how the results of impact absorption tests relate to concussions, and no helmet, practice apparatus, or helmet pad can prevent or eliminate the risk of concussions or other serious head injuries while playing sports.